Friday, January 30, 2015

Wild Blend Rice Cranberry Pilaf




Angie, I am here! I know I am late for the Fiesta Friday anniversary party , but I am here! I have brought this amazing wild rice pilaf!

I love trying new stuff. One such thing is the Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg that I recently got.It is essentially a  blend of wild rice, long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, whole grain Wehani rice, and whole grain black Japonica rice. I have always been fascinated by wild rice. I have eaten wild rice salad many a time and enjoyed it. Brown rice I know is healthy, but I cannot switch it for my regular parboiled or Matta rice. This rice blend was perfect for those times when I wanted something different and a little more exotic.




Being that it is cold outside, I like to eat warm/hot food. I therefore didn't want to make a salad. I also had butternut squash, some green squash, carrots and fresh cranberries on hand and therefore decided to make a pilaf utilizing everything I had on hand. I must say that it came out really good and was gone in no time! I like my rice cooked until tender, I therefore soaked it for a couple of hours so as to reduce the cooking time. Brown rice takes forever to cook! This again is a one-pot recipe, easy to make.








Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Wild blend rice: 2 cups
Butternut squash: 2 cups, diced medium.
Green squash( zucchini): 1 cup, diced.
Baby carrots: 1 cup
Clarified butter : 1 tbsp
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Onion: 1 medium, diced small
Garlic: 3-4 small cloves, minced
Boiling hot water: 5 cups ( you can use vegetable or chicken broth if you wish)
Fresh Cranberries: 1/2 cup, chopped
Cashew halves: 1 tbsp( optional)
Slivered almonds: 1 tbsp( optional)
Pomegranate seeds: 2 tbsp( optional)
Parsley( fresh) : 1 tbsp, chopped
Salt : to taste
Black pepper: 1 tsp,freshly ground ( can adjust as per individual taste)

Method:


Soak the rice blend in water for 1-2 hours. Drain and keep aside. ( This step is optional. I do this to reduce the cooking time and to make the rice more tender).

In a sauté pan or pressure cooker pan, heat butter and olive oil.Add the minced garlic, sauté for few seconds.

Now add the chopped onions and sauté on medium until the onion turns transparent.

Now add in the cashew halves, cranberries; sauté for a minute.

Add in the wild blend rice and the boiling hot water. Add salt, pepper powder,baby carrots, parsley and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

While that is cooking, you can cut the butternut squash and the green squash if you have not done so already.

After 30 mins, add in the butternut squash and the green squash to the pan, stir, cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until the rice reaches the desired level of tenderness.




Note: if using the pressure cooker/pan to cook, do not use the whistle/weight.Garnish with pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds and cranberries.




Serve hot. 





Enjoy!


Cooking made easy:


Any kind of vegetable can be used in this pilaf. You can use peas and carrots or mushrooms; anything really.

If you don't have fresh cranberries, you can used dried ones.

If you are allergic to nuts, you can skip it. If not, you can even use walnuts or pecans in this recipe.

Tip for healthy living:


Although brown rice is more tedious to cook, it is much healthier for the body. Not only is it less processed, it has a higher dietary fiber content when compared to other kinds of rice. It also has a lower glycemic index and is therefore good for diabetics. It has both the outer bran and germ layers and therefore more vitamins and other nutrients.

References:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eating-brown-rice-day-good-you-10049.html
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=128
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/brown-rice.html


Food for thought:



The only way to have a friend is to be one. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dry-fruit laddoos( dry-fruit balls); sugarless, butter-less!



This is the sweet treat on the occasion of the first anniversary of my blog "Su's Healthy Living". Any celebration is incomplete without something to sweeten our mouth. As you all know I don't often post sugary, buttery, floury,fried desserts in this  blog. This blog was begun with the intent of promoting healthy eating and healthy living by being able to cook at home without too much head-scratching or too much fanfare. With this goal in mind I am bringing to you this healthy snack/dessert that both children and adults will like. You won't be able to stop with just one. You could eat it as a dessert after a meal, eat it as a snack during the day. You can keep some in a small baggie in your purse and pop it into your mouth when the blood sugar goes low or the hunger pangs hit you! You could feed your kids 4-5 and they would get atleast 50% of their daily protein requirement without even realizing it! And just as the title says it has absolutely NO added sugar, butter, ghee , flour or any kind of preservative. All ingredients are natural and it is super-easy to make, super-delicious to eat and super-nutritious. Say YAY to dry fruit balls!




This recipe is another of the innovative creative recipes from my best friend Phani's mother. This is how she sneaks proteins into her grandchildren.;)

Servings: makes around 50-60 nickel-sized ladoos.


Ingredients:


Almonds: 1/2 cup
Walnuts: 1/2 cup
Cashewnuts: 1/2 cup
Chopped, pitted dates: 4 cups

Method:


Individually dry roast the almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts and keep aside to cool down.



Once cooled, powder them coarsely in a coffee-grinder/ food processor / mixer-grinder . You could also grind it too a fine powder and make it. I like to grind it a little coarse as it adds texture to the laddoos.Add it to a bowl.



Warm the dates in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, until it is a little moist. In a food processor, grind the dates so that it becomes a smooth paste.




Add this paste to the bowl with the nuts and mix well.



Pinch marble-sized or nickel-sized portions of the mixture and roll it to a ball.( You could make any size balls. The rationale for the marble-sized  balls is that it is easy to eat for kids and and adults alike).Do this until all the dough has been used up.( Make su



Store in airtight container.


Stays fresh at room temperature for 2-3 weeks, and upto 6 months in the refrigerator. I am bringing this healthy dessert to the Anniversary Gala at Angie's Fiesta Friday for all those people who are very health conscious and don't wish to indulge in heavy sugary cakes and pastries! I am sure the co-hosts Nancy and Selma will be glad.

Cooking made easy:


All the nuts can be roasted in the microwave using microwave safe plate for 3-4 minutes each. This is much faster and a more efficient way of doing it.

You could use any combination of nuts for your choice. 

Make sure you use 3-4 times the amount of dates as there are nuts. The dates is what gives the laddoos the binding power.

Tip for healthy living:


Eating a handful of mixed nuts everyday has proved very beneficial. Just a handful of nuts not only contribute to a great percentage of our required daily protein intake but also omega-3 fatty acids.In fact nuts are one of the few plant-based sources of these omega-3 fatty acids!The omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy and help prevent cardiovascular issues.Nuts are also rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/0406/why-you-should-go-nuts-for-nuts.aspx#01

Food for thought:


Eternity: a moment standing still for ever. James Montgomery

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flaxseed/ Flaxmeal dry chutney



Today was the day one year ago when I posted my first recipe on Su's Healthy Living. Looking back, what a sad post it was! Not that I am fantastic now! But I have definitely come a long way! Then again, a year ago, I didn't know anything about blogging and I didn't have anyone to guide/support me. I had to figure it out all by myself! It has been a year of figuring out, but now I have many people I could reach out to!

Anyways, on this occasion of the first anniversary of my blog, I have decided to post not one but two recipes today! After all the blog is entering it's second year! Worth celebrating right? I am going to bring to you all two very healthy dishes: one spicy and one sweet!




The spicy dish is the very healthy flaxseed dry chutney powder. The inspiration for this dish was Pratibha Rao, who is a very great cook and a very helpful, humble blogger.You can find the original recipe here. I have modified the recipe to make it even easier and faster to make! Believe me when I tell you that it took me less than 30 mins to make this chutney from start to finish. Literally  30 mins from the time I took out the ingredients from the pantry to bottling the chutney in a nice jar. All through the process I was chatting with  my mother via Skype!


Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and of course dietary fiber and therefore very healthy for you. I have used golden Flaxmeal and dry coconut  powder, hence it was much faster. You could make it with flaxseeds itself, but you have to dry roast it and then powder it. Same thing with grated coconut. All that takes a lot of time.  Also, the use of golden Flaxmeal has lightened the chutney color significantly as opposed to if I were to use the dark flaxseed/ Flaxmeal.  I have also used a little chilli powder, because I didn't want it to be too spicy. This too lightened it up. But the end result is absolutely delicious. It would be a great accompaniment to any meal or could be mixed with a little coconut oil  and served with chutney or dosa!


Servings: One 400 grams bottle


Ingredients:


Flaxmeal : 1 cup ( I used golden Flaxmeal, any Flaxmeal can be used. If using flaxseeds, use 1/2 cup).
Chana dal ( split yellow peas or split chick peas): 1/2 cup
Toor dal( split matpe bean): 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds : 1 tbsp
Dried grated coconut/ coconut powder: 1/2 cup
Kashmiri Chilli powder: 2 tsp
Hot red chilli powder: 1/2-1 tsp( can adjust as per required level of spiciness)
Amchur powder( dried mango powder): 1 tbsp
Hing ( Asofoetida):1/4 tsp
Salt: 1 tbsp ( you can adjust as per taste).

Method:




In a heavy bottomed pan,individually and separately dry roast Chana dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, jeera  and keep aside.  Let it cool down.









Once cooled, put the above items in a coffee grinder/ food processor or mixer-grinder and dry grind it to a fine powder.






Now in the same pan separately dry roast the flax meal and then the dry coconut.


Once the dry coconut is slightly brown, add the flax meal back to the pan and mix well.


Add in the salt, amchur powder and red chilli powders. Turn off the flame and mix well.





Now add in the ground powder into the pan and mix well.






Spicy, tangy, yummy dry Flaxmeal chutney is ready! Store in an airtight container. Stays fresh for upto a month at room temperature and upto 3-6 months in the refrigerator.







Enjoy it as a condiment with rice,dip by mixing it with coconut oil just before serving; serve it with idli/ dosa. Can be sprinkled on salads, meats to give it a kick.

If you find more creative ways to use it, please do share it with me too.. I am bringing this to my friends at the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Gala, in case they need a condiment to spice up any of the dishes! Nancy & Selma must be running around on their feet helping Angie entertain the massive crowd!

Cooking made easy:


I roasted the Flaxmeal  in the microwave by putting it in a microwave safe bowl and warming it 2 minutes first and then in one minute increments until done. Took me around 4 minutes. You can do the same with all the lentils. It is much faster that way.

If you don't have Flaxmeal, use whole flaxseed. Dry roast it first, cool it and powder it like the rest of the ingredients either in a coffee grinder or a mixer-grinder to a fine powder.

Tip for healthy living:


Flaxseed is one of the best plant-based( vegetarian) source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a great source of dietary fiber and is rich in lignans which have both estrogen and antioxidant properties.Flaxseeds add bulk to the meal and helps attain satiety earlier. It also helps prevent constipation and therefore is good for digestive regularity.

Flaxseed when consumed whole just passes through the body( the digestive system) undigested and out in the feces and does not get absorbed in the body. Hence it is essential to consume it preferably in a powdered form.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263405.php


Food for thought:


A forest bird never wants a cage. Henrik Ibsen




Monday, January 26, 2015

Cranberry Chutney; Anniversary special; Meatless Monday



As part of my blog anniversary week, I wanted to bring to you  healthy, yummy, delicious and easy recipes. What better than this tangy, spicy cranberry chutney?




Fall brings in fresh cranberries to our area. Around thanksgiving, it is all about cranberries. I love cranberries. I love the color, the texture, the taste.. Everything about it. I eat cranberries all through the year. Dried ones, of course. I put it in my oatmeal every morning, I add it in my breads, pulav/ pulaf, I even snack on them.I drink cranberry juice quite often. Cranberries are good for you after all. But, nothing beats fresh cranberries!




Last year during Fall,  when I visited my best friend, Phani, I came across this amazing chutney that her mom made. It was love and first sight! Well, I have to tell you about this amazing person that is her mom. I am yet to meet a more efficient, creative, multi-talented, multi-faceted person. Her imagination is amazing! She can make/ create things/ recipes that I could not. Not in a hundred years! Then again, I have very poor imagination! :(
This lady can sow, do wonders with arts and crafts and is a great chef! All this effortlessly, without complaining. She is a lady after my own heart. She perseveres in feeding her family healthy, freshly cooked food. This cranberry chutney is her original recipe. It is super-easy to make and super delicious! It could be eaten as a dip, as a condiment to a meal and as chutney for bread/dosa/idli.




Servings: makes 2 cups of chutney


Ingredients:


Fresh cranberries: 1/2 lb or 250 gms
Urad dal ( split matpe beans): 2 tbsp
White Sesame seeds: 2 tbsp
Dried red chillies: 3-4 count ( you can adjust based on your spice level)
Jeera( cumin): 1 tsp
Garlic clove: 2 small
Salt: as per taste

Tempering ( optional):
Coconut oil: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Hing powder ( asofoetida ): a pinch


Method:


Rinse and dry the cranberries. Put them in a thick bottomed pan and cook on a low flame with a little salt until completely mushy. Takes about 10-15 mins. When done, turn off the flame and let it cool down.




While the cranberries are cooling, individually dry roast urad dal, sesame seeds and cumin ( jeera) until toasted ( a slight aroma or it acquires a golden hue). Keep aside. Now in the same pan, dry roast the red chillies and keep aside.


Once the urad dal and the sesame seeds have cooled down, powder them using a food processor/ blender/ mixture. Add the red chillies, cumin seeds and garlic. Grind to a fine powder. Now add in the cooked and cooled cranberries. Blend to a fine paste.Add salt as needed.


Cranberry chutney is ready. Tempering is optional.

For tempering:
Heat oil in a small sauté pan. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves and hing. Pour it on top of the chutney. Mix well before serving.


Store the chutney in an airtight container. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.

Serve with rice/ dosa/idli / bread! I am going to bring this dip to the Anniversary block party at Angie's Fiesta Friday! I don't want the co-hosts Hilda & Julianna to fret because they are out of dips!

Cooking made easy:


Even though I am not a great fan of microwave cooking, in a pinch, you could toast the urad dal and sesame seeds in the microwave. Do it a minute at a time. You could even cook the cranberries in the microwave. This would save time and you don't have to wash too many dishes!

Tip for healthy living:


Cranberry top the list of healthy foods and are considered  "super food". They are extremely "nutrient-dense" and are very rich in antioxidants. Of course, low in calories! Cranberries are especially known for their benefits in preventing/ curing urinary tract infection. They are also known to prevent certain types of cancer , improve immune function and help reduce blood pressure. Cranberries are rich in vitamins C & E and dietary fiber. Cranberries can be consumed in juice form, relish/ sauce or even had as a snack when dried.
References:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cranberries-year-round-superfood
http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Fruits/Article-Viewer/Article/205/Health-Benefits-of-Cranberries.aspx
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269142.php

Food for thought:


The love we give away is the only love we keep. Elbert Hubbard


Friday, January 23, 2015

Mirsange Bajo ( Batter-fried Green chilli peppers)



Like most people around the world, Indians too love fried food. Not only do they love fried food, they love spicy fried food. One such group of popular Indian snacks/appetizers are fritters and fried vegetables. We dip all kinds of vegetables in a spicy batter and fry them . I have previously posted recipes for cauliflower bajo and fried breadfruit. Along similar lines is another extremely popular snack/ appetizer: batter fried green chillies or mirchi bhajias as they fondly call it back home. This is very popular in Maharashtra and Goa, where they put it in a bun/roll with additional chutney( usually cilantro) and eat it. Mmmm Yum! Can you imagine eating hot chilli peppers??? Well, there are several tricks to get rid of the heat of the chilli pepper. Not all chilli peppers are hot. You can use the sweet long green chilli pepper in this recipe too. You see, while my husband  loves this snack, I am not too crazy about it. I never have been, not even when I was younger. I don't like anything too spicy.I rarely make it and when I do make it, I do everything I can to cut the heat. Then too, I may eat just the outer batter coating or just a tini wini bit. One of the ways to cut the heat is by deseeding the peppers. Another trick is to soak it in a solution of vinegar for a few minutes before soaking it in batter. This generally kills the heat. Apart from that, this is a very easy snack to make. You dip it in the batter and deep fry it.





Servings: 2-4


Ingredients:


Long green chilli peppers: 6-8 in number.
Chick-pea flour( besan): 1/2 cup
Hing( asofoetida): a pinch if using powder, 1/4 tsp if using solution.
Cumin ( jeera) powder: 1/8 th tsp
Salt: to taste
Water: 1/4 cup ( enough to make a thick batter)
Oil: for frying( I used coconut oil)

Method:


Wash the chilli pepper, make a slit on the side and deseed the pepper gently without cutting it into two. Do not remove the crown/ stem of the chilli pepper. The chilli peppers I had were really long and I had to cut them into two so that they could fit in the wok that I was frying them in.




If the chilli pepper is the spicy( hot) kind, soak it in a solution of vinegar and salt  for 5-10 minutes.





In a small bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, hing( asofoetida), cumin powder, salt and water and make a thick batter.

Heat oil in a kadai/ frying pan to 400 deg F. You could also use a deep fryer if you have one.




Dip each chilli pepper in the above batter until it is completely coated and drop it gently into the hot oil. Drop one chilli pepper at a time.




Do not overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding results in poor quality of the end product. Fry until  the oute batter turns a nice golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side on medium flame.



Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels so as to soak the excess oil.



Serve hot with some dinner rolls/ burger buns or with a cup of tea,for a quick snack  or as a side-dish for lunch/dinner.

Enjoy! I am bringing this fiery dish to Fiesta Friday's Anniversary Block party! The block party is being celebrated for 2 whole weeks with this week being Appetizers and drinks and next week being the main course! This week is being co-hosted by the very talented bloggers : Hilda@Along the grapevine and Julianna@ Foodie On Board



Cooking made easy:

Another way to reduce the heat of the chilli pepper is to soak it in buttermilk for 10- 15 mins.You could batter fry other vegetables like potato/sweet potato/ eggplant/ bell pepper slices in this fashion.

Tip for healthy living:

Avoid reusing fried oil.This has deleterious effects on life due to the free radicals that are formed during the reheating of the oil.The free radicals attach themselves to the healthy cells in the body and can be carcinogenic.
There are other toxins that are also formed that can cause a variety of health issues in the human body.

References:
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA358078
http://www.thehealthsite.com/fitness/reusing-oil-why-is-it-dangerous-for-your-health/
http://nitte.edu.in/journal/decsplitted/Nitte%20University%20Journal%20December10_15.pdf

Food for thought:


Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail. Charles Kettering